Maro Itoje warned over his future as England lock prepares to make ‘difficult’ decision

Colin Newboult
Maro Itoje in action for Saracens following the Rugby World Cup in 2023.

Maro Itoje in action for Saracens following the Rugby World Cup in 2023.

Former Scotland international Stuart Hogg believes that Maro Itoje must think hard about what he will miss out on by taking up an offer from abroad.

The England star has been linked with a move away from Saracens due to the change in salary cap regulations from next season.

In 2024/25, sides in the Premiership will only be allowed to carry one marquee player in their squad, with Owen Farrell the individual Sarries are reportedly looking to keep in that bracket.

As a result, Itoje would have to take a massive pay cut if he wants to remain at the Londoners.

Interest from the Top 14

According to reports in France, that has alerted the attentions of Top 14 clubs, who are circling around one of the English game’s prized assets.

That would, however, prevent him from representing the national team and also harm his chances of playing for the British and Irish Lions.

“You’ve got to think of Lions, England caps, World Cups, all these things come into contention. He goes to France and he’ll play every single week, he’ll miss out on England caps. He’ll miss out on potential Lions teams,” Hogg told TNT Sports.

“It’s not just as easy as saying ‘I’m going to go there, I’m going to grab the money and I’m going to play rugby.’ It’s not just as easy and plain sailing as the financial things.

“It’s a big old decision, and only Maro Itoje will know what’s happened. It’s not exactly a bad place to be in when you’re thinking of all the things that possibly could happen.

“As a rugby fan, we want to still see him playing in the Premiership.”

Itoje is reportedly seeking a £1 million pay package, which would pretty much rule out all Premiership suitors, unless another club accommodates him as their marquee player.

However, it is understood that most, if not all, sides in England have already filled that slot for next season.

Hybrid contract

A final option would be for him to become one of the first individuals to be put on an RFU ‘hybrid contract’.

The governing body have yet to ratify that plan, but no doubt Itoje would be one of the first names down should it be pushed through quickly.

If a big offer does come in from France, though, former Red Rose representative Tom May admits that it would be difficult to reject.

“These are sums of money that it’s hard to turn down. Sporting careers are short. You have to look after your future, your family’s,” May said.

“Who could turn down opportunities like that if they’re presented? It’s difficult.

“Anyone that gets frustrated by whatever decision comes out of this has to realise how much would be going through his mind. The pros and cons of leaving a club that has set him up.

“Saracens have put Mario Itoje to where he is right now, along with a lot of hard work he has put in. These are tough decisions for him.”

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